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Will Godfrey Will Godfrey

Former Undercover Narc Describes the Racist Motives Behind the War on Drugs

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Neill Franklin Vice.com

Neill Franklin Photo via

Few people have had such an all-round view of the US War on Drugs as (Major) Neill Franklin. For 33 years he served with the Maryland and Baltimore police forces—during which time his roles included being an undercover narcotics agent, posing as a drug user to recruit informants, and leading several narcotics task forces.

After he retired, Franklin ”really started taking a critical look at what was going on.” The transformation was dramatic. He now heads up Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)—an organization of 3,500 former police officers, judges and DAs that campaigns to legalize all drugs. In a memorable interview with VICE, Franklin recalls his undercover days and talks about some of the reasons for his change of heart:


 …as time went on I came to realize why most of the people use the stuff. I thought, why is smoking a joint any different from someone else sucking down Jack Daniels? Eventually, I started learning about why these policies exist. It really boils down to social control: people controlling other people.


let’s look at how the drug war began, with Richard Nixon. His main headaches were Vietnam War protesters and the civil-rights movement. You can’t throw people in prison for protesting because of freedom of speech, and you can’t throw people in prison for being black. But you can always criminalize what they do. One of Richard Nixon’s closest aides, H. R. Haldeman, said he remembers Nixon saying that blacks were the real problem and we have to figure out a way to deal with them without appearing to. That was right before he started the drug war.